Alumni Spotlight

Dr Lynda Coughlan - Postdoctoral Fellow, New York

20 Nov
Dr. Lynda Coughlan

Dr Lynda Coughlan is a Postdoctoral Fellow at Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, New York. Her research focuses on developing improved vaccines for influenza. Dr. Coughlan has recently been named as the 2017 recipient of the Graduate Women in Science (GWIS) Nell Mondy and Monique Braude Fellowship. She is one of just six women chosen by GWIS in the USA/Internationally this year for the prestigious honour. Lynda reminisces about her college days and her time in the Microbiology Department.

Course/subjects studied in University College Cork
I studied for a BSc Microbiology at UCC. Although I loved Zoology and Biochemistry, I found lectures on Virology, Medical Microbiology, Molecular Biology and Immunology particularly exciting so decided to focus on Microbiology for my final degree.

Best memory of UCC
There was a real sense of camaraderie among the BSc Micro students, so actually some of my best memories were when we were all studying in the Boole library. We were always happy to help each other and were always keen to have debates and conversations about various microbiology topics introduced to us in lectures! I also loved taking in the scenery and beautiful buildings on the UCC campus and going for coffee with friends studying on different courses.

How has your time at UCC helped you to get to where you are now?
The Microbiology department provided us with very rigorous training and practical skills, while at the same time always being incredibly approachable and welcoming. It was a fantastic, nurturing department. We were always taught to challenge ideas and actively engage in critical thinking and discussion. I think that the teaching in the Microbiology department was outstanding and has certainly played a huge part in my success. It gave me a very solid foundation on which to build my career. I am very proud to have been a UCC Microbiology graduate.

What is your advice to current UCC students?
I would say, be proud of the training you receive in UCC and be confident that you can succeed on an international platform. I think that sometimes in Ireland, coming from a small country, we try to manage our expectations for the future, limiting what we believe we can achieve. I would encourage students to actively pursue whatever dreams and aspirations they have. There is no reason you cannot achieve what you want if you put your mind to it.

What person/people at UCC had the most positive influence on you?
There were several professors and staff within the Microbiology department at UCC who positively influenced my career. I really enjoyed the virology lectures given by Dr Martina Scallan. I actually struggled with virology initially as I found it challenging, but I enjoyed it and Dr Scallan’s encouragement and enthusiasm for the subject was infectious! I also really enjoyed lectures by Dr Colin Hill and Dr John Morgan and knew as soon as I started my laboratory research placement in Douwe Van Sinderen's group that a career in research was for me.

Favourite UCC legend or superstition
Obviously, the superstition about walking down the centre of the Quad....I did it on my first week and actually did fail my exams in first year!

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